India has one of the oldest connections to cannabis out of any nation on earth, particularly for sacramental purposes. According to Psychology Today, “The earliest mention of cannabis has been found in The Vedas, or sacred Hindu texts. These writings may have been compiled as early as 2000 to 1400 B.C.”
A common form of cannabis in India is bhang, which is a drink infused with various levels and types of cannabis. Bhang is reportedly common in many parts of India, even though it is technically illegal.
According to section 20 of India’s Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (1985), ‘the sale/purchase, transportation, interstate import/export or any other commercial activity of cannabis’ is a punishable offense.
Cannabis use is largely tolerated in India, although there are definitely instances of people receiving harsh punishments for simple possession. Medical cannabis use is legal to some degree, with the Centre telling the Delhi High Court in January 2022 that the use of cannabis is ‘not completely banned’ and that ‘medical and scientific use of cannabis is allowed under the law.’
Uttarakhand became the first state in India to allow commercial cultivation of hemp crops back in 2018, and in 2019 the Madhya Pradesh government followed suit. In February 2020 India permitted its first medical cannabis clinic to open in Bengaluru.
Yet, large-scale cultivation of medical cannabis nationwide has remained out of reach. That could be changing soon. Per The Tribune:
Chief Parliamentary Secretary (CPS) Sunder Singh Thakur said today that the state government was working to legalise the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes. The government would formulate a policy for cannabis cultivation so that farmers could get additional income, he added.
He presided over the inaugural ceremony of the three-day training workshop of the Himalayan Forest Research Institute (HFRI), Shimla, at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali.
How long it will take for such reforms to be fully implemented is unclear at this time. What is clear is that if India succeeds in its pursuits, it will move closer to taking its rightful spot as an international cannabis industry powerhouse.
India Is Working To Legalize Industrial Medical Cannabis Cultivation